Pastoral Letter, November 2021
I thought I should say a few things about our current Covid-19 protocols. The first is that they are in line with the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s directives and the guidelines of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We do not require proof of vaccination for Sunday services of worship as they are regarded as essential services, but we do require proof of vaccination for all other public events and activities, including receptions and meals. These are regarded as non-essential. Closed meetings, not open to the public, do not require proof of vaccination but meetings open to the public do. Funerals and weddings are not regarded simply as church services and have their own set of guidelines determined by the province.
While we do not require proof of vaccination for Sunday services, the parish strongly recommends that everyone be fully vaccinated, except where this is not recommended medically.. Following the direction of the Diocese, we require masks and the use of hand sanitizer and we strongly encourage continued social distancing. On the matter of vaccination, the Anglican Church has no tradition of religious exemption for vaccinations. There are a few religious traditions that do, mostly based on their rejection of modern methods and ways of life, and science and its application in technology. The Anglican Church, rooted in catholic theology and practice, does not reject established and demonstrated science. Science is the natural way to understand God’s creation through the use of human reason and the powers of investigation and enquiry. We are made to know the world we live in. We apply science to experience the world, to create and to do things in the world. Medical science is used for healing. This is all part of the Creator’s plan.
True science, that is demonstrated and proven science, is never at odds with true religion. Science may be used in ways contrary to God’s purpose, but real knowledge is never at odds with true religion. It is only we who misunderstand the relationship. In the case of vaccines, they have long been part of the way medicine combats serious disease and, in some cases, have completely overcome it. The vaccines being used in North America to combat Covid-19 were developed with great speed and on the basis of years of previous research and development. Now deployed in many countries among many millions of people, they are proving effective against serious illness, hospitalization and death. We have the assurances of some of the best minds in medical research and development, the assurance of health officials across our country and internationally, and again the evidence that where the majority of people are vaccinated, far, far fewer people are being hospitalized or dying from Covid-19. Unless there is a medical reason why people should not be vaccinated, we encourage people to be fully vaccinated. Once again, in our religious tradition there are not grounds for not being vaccinated. Objections to the current vaccination programs on the basis of apocalyptic scenarios drawn from the Book of Revelation or other apocalyptic sources in the Bible are far-fetched and do not speak to the details and specifics of these vaccination programs. These programs have simple objectives, to keep individuals and the great majority of people in our society safe from Covid-19. They are about physical health. They are about looking after ourselves and also the people around us: family. friends, associates and co-workers, etc. We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers when it comes to public health.
As people of faith, we should not be the opponents of demonstrated and established science. Faith will take our minds and hearts to places where science may not, but true faith never takes us to places that deny fact, proven science and knowledge.
Let’s support one another, our health officials and health care workers, as we fight to bring this pandemic to an end. When that happens, we can be assured the science and medicine played their crucial parts.